John chapter 21, the appendix, with Christ’s appearance at Lake Tiberias, the miraculous draught of fishes, and his three-fold restoration of Peter. It is many people’s favourite single chapter in the whole of Scripture. This has something to do with it being written, by ‘someone else’, many years later, looking back at the end of a life here on earth, and painting a beautifully tranquil picture. There is a quality of time, and a sense of colour, unlike anything else in the Bible. It is a word picture.
And not, it seems, a painter’s picture. The miraculous draught of fishes, when
painted (by such as Raphael), is more usually the version found in Luke’s gospel rather than the final chapter of John’s. As to the breakfast, with the fish cooking on the charcoal fire, or the command to Peter to ‘feed my lambs’, or the prediction of his death, or the misunderstood comment about John himself: these are rarely if ever depicted on canvas or any other medium.
We fall back on photographs or landscape painting. A sense of place. A moment of post-resurrection incarnation, intensely evocative and almost too personal to be portrayed. The words alone paint the picture.